Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has claimed that Pakistan will seek billions of dollars in fresh loans to help the country recover from the devastation caused by floods that have left over 33 million homeless, adding that Islamabad is not looking to reschedule its existing debt.
“We are not asking for any kind of measure [such as] a rescheduling or a moratorium,” he told the Financial Times in an interview published on Wednesday. “We are asking for additional funds,” he added, in a seeming departure from policies proposed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who said he would seek rescheduling of nearly $27 billion in loans from non-Paris Club creditors.
The prime minister, per the publication, said Islamabad needed “huge sums of money” for “mega undertakings” such as rebuilding roads, bridges and other infrastructure damaged or washed away by the climate change-induced disaster. “There is a gap—and a very serious gap—which is widening by the day between our demands and what we have received,” he stressed, reiterating that Islamabad would seek “additional funding” from wherever it could. He said he hoped a donors’ conference announced by French President Emmanuel Macron would take place in Paris next month.
On calls from various activists for “reparations” to Pakistan due to the climate change-induced disaster, Sharif said Islamabad only wanted “climate justice” and was “not using the word ‘reparations’ at all.”
According to Sharif, Pakistan has been using state funds to help displaced families and buy provisions such as tents, medicine, food packs and drinkable water. To a question on public discontent, the prime minister admitted this was a concern, especially with the political gains secured by ousted prime minister Imran Khan in recent months. “We are obviously concerned because if there is dissatisfaction leading to deeper political instability and we are not able to achieve our basic requirements and goals, this can obviously lead to serious problems,” he was quoted as saying by the daily. “I’m not saying it in terms of any kind of threat, but I’m saying there’s a real possibility,” he added.